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Friday, July 23, 2021

Post-pandemic competition fierce for gift cards

The gift card market experienced an uplift in 2020, especially during the holiday season, according to Blackhawk Network's BrandedPay Holiday 2020 Report. The survey of 1500 U.S. shoppers, published in November 2020, found 66 percent of respondents had purchased gift cards in 2020 and 72 percent planned to use them for holiday spending.

"The convenience and flexibility that gift cards offer has always been appealing, but this year consumers plan to turn to gift cards to help deal with the uncertainty and difficulty of shopping in 2020," Blackhawk researchers wrote, adding that 2020 eGift sales were 74 percent higher than the previous year.

Michel Francis is chief executive officer at Reloadly, an airtime provider that helps companies improve gift card services and delivery. Citing data from Allied Market Research, which valued the global gift card market at $619.25 billion in 2019, Francis identified an industrywide need to improve gift card top-ups, redemption and software developer support.

Differentiating by airtime

Reloadly's new feature leverages the company's telco relationships to accelerate gift card services, Francis explained. This enables customers and service providers to quickly transfer digital goods across the world using Reloadly's global network of over 800 mobile operators.

"We not only make our technology easy to trial and access; we also focus our solution around solving problems and pain points from the developers' perspective," Francis said, adding that Reloadly is disrupting the airtime top-up industry with its easy, plug-and-play solution.

Francis further noted that Amazon, Apple, eBay, Nintendo, Google Play and other leading companies are participating in Reloadly's beta launch. The company provides mobile and web APIs and a dedicated platform to connect developers with telco carriers worldwide, he added.

Differentiating by personalization

"Retail Outlook - Evolution of Gift Cards in Retail: From Transactions to Engagement," a benchmark study published by Incisiv in April 2021, found eGift card providers actively seeking new ways to differentiate. "Retailers can still derive value from gift cards, but in an increasingly digital world, it requires new thinking," researchers wrote. "They must understand how the gift card capabilities need to mature to support this 'new normal.'"

Incisiv researchers additionally noted that consumers expect to receive relevant offers and gifts, making personalization essential to eGifting strategy. "The vast majority of retailers and restaurants that offer eGift cards allow the cards to incorporate personal messages, photos and videos, but they can improve the range of templates, designs and occasions for gift cards," researchers wrote.

Personalized recommendations with curated gift card options can also help engage customers, Incisiv researchers noted; failing to do this can be detrimental to retail and hospitality brands. "76% of retailers don't suggest gift cards in the search bar or suggest product options based on a gift card type—for example, suggesting diapers if shoppers are gifted with a "new baby" template," researchers wrote. "It is far worse with the restaurant industry as no major brands evaluated (0%) suggest gift cards in their search bar. Retailers and restaurant brands are clearly leaving money on the table by failing to make relevant product recommendations." end of article

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